Kanoa Iwasaki makes football a family affair

LIHUE — With a 28-7 upset win over Iolani High School in its pocket, the Kauai High School football team returned to the practice field this week.

“This was very exciting,” said Shannon Herbig whose son, Nate, is on the line for the Red Raiders.

“Bruce (her husband) was running up and down the track for the entire game. He even broke the megaphone. I had to get him another one.”

Tommy John Cox, the Kauai head coach, calmly pulled his team together ahead of practice Monday.

“We’re just working hard,” Cox said. “We’ve got a big game Saturday  and we need to work hard.”

Kauai, No. 3 seed in the First Hawaiian Bank Hawaii High School Athletic Association, Division II football championship, upset the No. 2 seed Iolani, Saturday.

The win pits Kauai against the No. 4 seed Kaiser High School who also upset the top-seeded Lahainaluna, 20-9, Saturday night on the Valley Isle.

“They’re a lot faster and they’re physical,” said Kanoa Iwasaki, a senior who scored two of Kauai’s four touchdowns against Iolani. “They also have very good defense so we’ve got to work hard.”

Kanoa picked up a 6-yard touchdown run to give Kauai a 14-0 halftime lead over Iolani. He added the final score of the game, a 31-yarder.

“They (Iolani) were worried about our inside runs,” Kanoa said. “When they got the ball to me on the outside, it was pretty easy.”

Overall, Kanoa picked up 39 yards on three carries, including the two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the senior pulled in two passes for 10 yards.

The versatility showed throughout the season as Kanoa filled in several slots for the team, including running the ball, special teams where he stood beside his twin brother Kaiea on kick returns, did duty as a wide receiver, and filled in as the backup quarterback when Kelson Andrade needed a break.

“It’s been pretty good,” Kanoa, who started in football with Pop Warner in the fifth grade. “My dad, Stacy, is the defensive line coach, my brother plays on the defense as a safety and special teams, and the team just upgraded our brother Keala from the junior varsity program. Pretty much, our whole family is about football.”

Kanoa said when they’re home as a family, football rules the conversation.

“Our team is pretty good, too,” Kanoa, sporting a blond Mohawk hairstyle, said. “During my four years, a lot of us played together during that time. It’s all come down to just one game.”

Kickoff for the First Hawaiian Bank, Division II football championship is at 4 p.m. Saturday at Aloha Stadium on Oahu.

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